What is Honors Mathematics?

The Mathematics Honors Program at Notre Dame is a rigorous program aimed at students who enjoy mathematics, thrive on challenge, and want to understand not just how mathematics works, but why it works as well. The program includes carefully planned and thorough sequences in analysis and algebra, the two most important building blocks of modern mathematics, as well as the opportunity to work closely with a faculty member by completing a senior thesis. The program provides outstanding preparation both for employment in a wide variety of fields that value strong analytic and quantitative skills, and for further study in all mathematical intensive areas of the sciences (pure and applied mathematics, statistics and biostatistics, physics, economics, computer science, engineering, ...).

The Mathematics Honors Program begins in the first year, with the year-long calculus sequence MATH 10850 --10860, Honors Calculus I and II.

What is SUMR?

The Seminar of Undergraduate Mathematical Research (SUMR) is a two-year enrichment program for junior and senior honors students who intend to do post-graduate work in the mathematical sciences. Its goal is to provide an especially strong mathematical foundation to participants, through graduate-level coursework, small group reading courses, and close contact with faculty members. SUMR graduates have established a remarkable tradition of accomplishment in postgraduate work. Recent SUMR alumni have pursued Ph.D.s in such fields as Mathematics, Applied Mathematics, Computer Science, Physics, Statistics, Biostatistics, Economics and Ecology, the vast majority at highly-ranked schools such as Cornell, Brown, Stanford, IU, UCLA and Harvard. No other Notre Dame program has had such a high percentage of its graduates winning national fellowships. Here are the details of the national awards and scholarships won by SUMR alumni up to and including 2012.

The Seminar of Undergraduate Mathematical Research was started in 1989, when it was noted that few Notre Dame undergraduates had been pursuing graduate work in any of the mathematical sciences. Created and maintained by emeritus professor Frank Connolly, its original goal was to give encouragement and direction to the ablest mathematics students at Notre Dame. There were two students during each of the first three years. The program sought to create a cadre of undergraduates with an unusually high level of mathematical accomplishment and a strong capacity to pursue graduate work in one of the mathematical sciences. During the last 15 years or so the seminar has grown significantly in size and breadth. It has, by any measure, been highly successful in its original goal of placing Notre Dame students into the top graduate programs in the country, and it has repeatedly been singled out for praise in external reviews of the department.

More detailed information

  • Honors courses: a brief description of the courses in the Honors program
  • Fellowships and scholarships: Information about applying for the many fellowships and scholarships in the mathematical sciences
  • REUs: Information about REUs and other summer research opportunities
  • Senior Thesis: Information about the option of graduating with a Senior Thesis, including a list of recent senior theses

SUMR Alumni

Here is a link to the complete list of SUMR alumni, including details of the awards that SUMR students have garnered.

The SUMR alumni have had remarkable success, from the program's inception in 1990 right through to today. 72 of the 75 SUMR graduates in the period 1990--2011 have pursued graduate degrees, 5 in medical or MBA programs and 67 in the mathematical sciences. Each of these 67 was admitted with financial support into some of the nation's top graduate programs. Indeed, 56 received offers from at least one of the top 25 graduate programs in their chosen field.

Although it is a small program, SUMR participants have won more than 50 national fellowships --- more than any single department at Notre Dame --- including

  • 13 National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowships
  • 12 Barry M. Goldwater Scholarships
  • 7 National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowships
  • 4 National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate Fellowships
  • a George C. Marshall Scholarship
  • a Winston Churchill Scholarship
  • a Fulbright Fellowship
  • a Lucent Technology Fellowship
  • a Sloan Fellowship
  • an Alice Shaefer prize

Three SUMR students have been finalists in the Rhodes Scholarship competition, and five have finished as either first runner-up or with honorable mention for the Alice Shaefer prize.